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County backs GB Airfest
Airfest to focus on entertainment as well as history
county commission airfest
The Army Golden Knights parachute team will perform at the 2021 Great Bend Airfest in September. The Barton County Commission Monday morning approved helping sponsor the event.

Noting the high-flying cultural and economic benefits the Great Bend Airfest brings not brings to the city, but to Barton County has a whole, the County Commission Monday morning approved sponsoring the event in the amount of $8,350.

The airfest will take place at Great Bend Municipal Airport Friday through Sunday, Sept. 17–19, This sponsor-driven event generally includes rides and tours of historic warbirds, air shows, veteran recognition and displays, said Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes.

Held every three years, the show costs the city over $150,000, between the cost of the acts, fuel and other expenses.

Great Bend kicks in $25,000 and a portion of the expense is covered by gate admission, which is typically $10 per person. A host of sponsors offset the majority of the pricetag.

“It is a very expensive and impressive event and we do need your help,” she said. “It’s not something like our June Jaunt or our Party in the Park, it’s bigger and it’s better,” and is estimated to bring in 10-15,000 spectators. 

“(Airport Manager Martin Miller) does a great job on fundraising for this,” Hayes said. The sponsorships help keep the admission price low since similar events charge $35-50 at the gate.

“What we’ve got is right up there with the top shows in the country,” Miller said. 

Gate receipts are unpredictable, so sponsors pay for most of the total, Miller said. Some sponsors have already stepped forward before the fundraising has started . 

“This is a non-profit deal,” Miller said. In fact, they lost some money on the last show in 2018 because of uncooperative weather, but were able to tap a cushion from the previous show to make up that shortage.

They also invite area school children on the Friday of the show at no cost, and several schools have already committed to bringing in bus loads of kids. They will experience many of the airshow events.

“I truly believe in this type of thing,” District 3 Commissioner Shawn Hutchinson said. “This is exactly what we need to support.”

Hayes also noted that in addition to the financial help, the county’s Communications Department, Sheriff’s Office and Road and Bridge Department all pitch in as well.

About the show

“This year, we are still focused on our Army airbase,” Hayes said, referring to the airport’s first life as a World War II training facility for B-29 bomber crews. However, they are putting a different twist on it as well.

“This year we are focusing on full-family entertainment,” she said. Through his contacts, Miller has lined up several top-notch acrobatic acts and historic aircraft, as well as the Army Golden Knight parachute team. 

Hayes called it “high energy, horsepower and speed.” “It’s going to be those loop-de-loop and the fun things to watch that you don’t see every day.”

“We will have a great mix of not only warbirds but vintage historic military and acrobatic aircraft,” Miller said.”This is basically aerial entertainment at its very, very best.”

Hayes didn’t have an exact amount, but said the fest has a huge economic impact on Great Bend anf the surrounding area. With show performers coming from all over the country and attendees from all over the state, it generates sales tax revenue and fill motels locally and in nearby communities.

“It’s always been a shot in the arm for the city and for the county when you have an event of this type because it brings people from all over the state. It’s just not just the county,” commission Chairman Jim Daily said. “So I applaud you for doing this again. It’s going to be a great time.”  

Visist for up-to-date show information.  


Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:

• Approved vacating the Cheyenne Estates II Subdivision.

On March 27, 1984, the commission adopted a plat establishing Cheyenne Estates II, a subdivision northeast of Great Bend, said County Counselor Patrick Hoffman. However, the development never materialized.

The property has changed hands and the new owners have other plans and asked the subdivision be vacated. The county’s Board of Zoning Appeals has signed off on the change and there were no objections from surrounding landowners.

• Approved a Great Bend Airport Airfest sponsorship in the amount of $8,350.

The Great Bend Airport Airfest will take place at Great Bend Municipal Airport Sept. 17–19, This sponsor-driven event generally includes rides and tours of historic warbirds, air shows, veteran recognition and displays, said Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes.

• Heard about the Kansas Women, Infants and Children Coordinator Mentor Program.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has developed the WIC Coordinator Mentor Program. This will prepare new local agency WIC coordinators for their role by connecting them with experienced mentors that can provide guidance and support, said Health Director Karen Winkelman.  

Bev Frizell, a 30-year Health Department veteran and WIC supervisor/registered dietician, has been invited to become a mentor under the new program.   

The commission also formally recognized Frizell for the honor.

• Named retired registered nurse Jan Watkins to the Health Department Advisory Committee. Her term expires Dec. 31, 2022.

Barton County solicited applicants for uncompensated positions for the committee. It provides guidance, recommendation and assistance to the Barton County Health Department staff, Health Director Karen Winkelman said.

The board has nine members and there are two openings still vacant.

• Approved the purchase of a the purchase of a 2019 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4WD with 13,023 miles from Marmies for the 20th Judicial District Juvenile Services.

Juvenile Services requested bids for a new or used program sports utility vehicle, said Director Marissa Woodmansee. The bid included the trade-in of a 2016 Dodge Caravan and 2014 Nissan Altima. 

After the trades, the cost of the vehicle will be $7,900.

The replacement vehicle will be used to travel the five-county district, as well across the state for mandatory field visits for all youth in custody.  

The Juvenile Services budget has resources available as a replacement vehicle was included in this year’s budget, Woodmansee said.

• Named District 2 Commissioner Barb Esfeld to the Behavioral Health Advisory Council. District 5 Commissioner Jennifer Schartz was named as the alternate.

Through collaboration, the BHCA will provide oversight and assessment for agencies seeking to enhance community behavioral health wellness. Those involved will promote collaboration, assess needs and develop community oversight for reporting.  

Central Kansas Community Corrections Director Amy Boxberger, 20th Judicial District Juvenile Services Director Marissa Woodmansee and The Center For Counseling and Consultation Executive Director Julie Kramp, asked the commission join the BHAC through the appointment of a BHCA member.

• Heard a report from District 2 Commissioner Barb Esfeld on the Kansas County Commissioners Association’s 45th Annual Conference in Liberal last week. 

The in-person conference included such topics as the legal framework of budgets, economic growth, legislation, health care, appraisal, succession planning and safety. Esfeld attended the event.